This was a visit I had made before I got into the blogging habit. The year was 2006 and we were in Chennai for our visa interview at the US Consulate. On the final day day of the trip we visited Ankichi Periamma, Sambamoorthy Anna & Manni at Rail Nagar. After a pleasant evening and sumptuous dinner Anna dropped us off a the Mofussil Bus terminus from where we boarded a late night bus for Kumbakonam.
We reached Kumbakonam early morning around 5.00 am and went straight to Hotel Raya's. A nice hotel conveniently situated at the hub of Kumbakonam. We hired a taxi and left on a temple trip in and around Kumbakonam.
Our primary objective was to visit Tiru Karugavoor Garbharakshambigai Temple. This temple is located 20 kilometers South West of Kumbakonam. In this temple Parvathi took the form of Sri Garbharakshambikai in order to give special protection to women during pregnancy. Bhavana was pregnant at that time and Shobha made an offerring of Castor Oil which was placed at the feet of the Goddess and charged with manthras. When women get labour pains, this oil is smeared on their abdomen. This will eliminate all complications, dangers and after effects and make the deliveries quite easy. (In fact Shobha carried the castor oil to the USA and when when complications appeared during Bhavana's delivery, she quietly smeared the oil on her abdomen and lo and behold the complications disappeared and the delivery was smoothe)
Childless couples also come here to pray and make offerring of ghee. If the couples consume some of this Ghee at night daily for 48 days the woman will conceive soon and be blessed with children.
As per legend when Vedika, the pregnant wife of Sage Nithuvar, was cursed by Sage Urthvapada with foul disease, Goddess Parvathi came to her rescue and saved the embryo and kept it in a divine pot, till it bloomed into a full fledged child. From then onwards goddess has taken permanent abode here as Garbharakshambigai. The Lord here is called Mullaivananathar and his Linga is Swayambhu or "self manifested". The linga is made of anthill mud and hence no water is used for abhishekam. Instead the lingam is pasted with a musk called called "Punuhu".
Next we visited the Naganatha swamy Temple located around 7 Kms east of Kumbakonam. This is the 29th in the series of thevara sthalams south of the Cauvery and hymns have been sung by Thirunavukarasar, Sambandar, Sundarar. The lord is known as Sanbakaranyeswarar, Naganathar and his consort is Girikusambikai. The real significance of this temple is that this is one of the Navagraha Sthalas(Rahu Sthala) in Tamilnadu. Rahu worshipped the Lord here on Sivarathri day to redeem himself from the curse of a rishi. Sundays are very auspicious and devotees perform milk abhishekam to Rahu, who is enshrined with His consorts. A noteworthy feature is that the milk turns blue. A dip in Soola Theertha is said to cure diseases and give prosperity.
The mythological serpents Aadi Seshan,Dakshan & Karkootakan worshipped Siva here. The temple occupies 15 acres and has large prakarams, towering gopurams and several mandapams. Fort like walls surround the outermost prakarams of the temple. There are 12 Tirthams here.
This temple was built by Gandaraditya Chola son of Parantaka Chola I
For more details log onto the official website of the temple : http://thirunageswaramraghutemple.org/index.htm
Devotees set to Suriyanar Temple to worship the Sun God should visit this place for relief of adverse effects of the nine planets (Navagrahas). This is 38th among Tevara Sthalams located on the Northern Bank of the Cauvery in Thanjavur District.The deity is Prananadeswarar (Swayambhu Lingam) and the consort is Mangalambikai. Thirumangalakudi is known as Panchamangala Kshetra. The name of the place is Mangalakudi. The Goddess is Mangalambika. The tower is Mangala Vimanam. The Holy Water is Mangala Theertham. The Vinayaka is Mangala Vinayaka. Everything in the temple denotes Mangala or Prosperity.
There is no special place for the Navagrahas here. It is believed that the the planets in the Suriyanar Temple are the ones belonging to this temple. For more details log onto to website: http://www.dinamalar.com/koil_english/Shiva_01Arulmigu%20Prananadeswarar%20Temple_Thirumangalakudi.asp
This is a unique temple dedicated to the Sun God and it also houses shrines to each of the other eight celestial bodies - the Nava Grahams. Suryanaar Koyil was built by the Chola kings. Inscriptions from the period of Kulottunga Chola I (1075-1120) refer to this temple as the Kulottunga Chola Martanda Alayam. Inscriptions from the period of Krishna Deva Raya, speaking of endowments made to this temple are also seen here. The presiding deity here is Suryanarayana in a chariot like vimaanam, representing the sun's chariot. There are also shrines to Kasi Viswanathar, Visalakshi and Brihaspati (Guru) in the sanctum. Shrines to the other celestial bodies are located outside of the sanctum. The Kol Theertha Vinayakar shrine is considered to be of importance here. An elaborate worship protocol involving circumambulating the entire temple nine times, is prescribed for devotees visiting the temple.
Next on our itinerary was Sri Oppiliappan Temple situated about 7 kms south of Kumbakonam and about 1\2 km from Kumbakonam - Karaikal bus route. This is one of the important Divya Desams and the presiding deity is known by different names: Tiruvinnagarappan, Oppiliappan, Uppiliappan, Srinivasan, Vankatachalapati. The Goddess is also known by different names namely:Bhoomi Devi, Bhoodevi,Bhoomi Nachiar, Dharani Devi, Vasundhara. The Deity stands majestically facing east. His consort Bhoomidevi is seated with a bending knee and folded hands facing north. Markandeya is seated facing south in a posture indicative of giving Kanyadan.
As per legend Lord Oppiliappan appeared to Nammalwar in 5 different forms as Ponnappan, Maniappan, Muthappan, Ennappan and Tiruvinnagarappan. Nammalwar, Tirumangai Alwar, Poigai & Pey Alwar have sung praises of the Lord. The Vimanam is named as Suddhananda, meaning "pure happiness". This place is also known as Markandeya Kshetra and Tulsi Vanam. The holy temple tank is called "Ahoratra Pushkarini". To the south of the temple, three holy rivers flow-known as Dakshina Ganga, Dakshina Yamuna and Dakshina Godavari.
Speciality of the Temple:
All food offerings strictly and completely saltless. It is a sin to carry salt inside the temple. Hence the Lord is also called as 'Lavana Varjita Venkatesa' i.e. Venkatesa who avoids salt.
The utsava deity oppiliappan is never taken out of the temple, without His consort, Bhoomidevi.
For history,legends & other details log onto: http://oppiliappantemple.org/efirstpage.html
Nachiyar Koil, Thirunaraiyur:
One of the 108 divya desams,the place is almost an hour's drive from the temple town of Kumbakonam in Thanjavur district. The main deity here is Lord Vishnu in the form of Srinivasar (Tirunaraiyur Nambi) and His consort is Vanchulavalli thaayaar. The holy theertham here is known as Manimukta Pushkarini and this sthalam has been sung by Tirumangai Alwar, who refers to the Lord as "Naraiyur Nindra Nambi. This temple was built by the Chola King Ko Chenkannan. Naachiyaar or Taayaar, gets the place of primary importance in this shrine, thus the name, Naachiyaar Koil. The Lord appears in the marriage pose or Kalyanakkolam with Vanchulavalli Taayaar (Nambikkai Naachiyaar) in the sanctum sanctorum. A special shrine dedicated to the Kal Garudan at Nachiyar Koil is very famous and it is on Garuda that the Uthsava moorthi is taken during the temple festivals. Specialty of the Kal Garuda - When it is just taken out of the shrine, only four people are needed to carry the mount. With each step, the mount increases in weight and by the time it is carried out of the temple, 64 people are required to carry it! There are also shrines to Yoga Narasimhar, Veera Hanuman, Ramar and Chakrapani.
......to be continued.....